Five years and no attacks. Yesterday Tim Russert asks Dick Cheney whether the 300 billion we’ve spent on Iraq might have been better spent on homeland security. Cheney responds:
>Well, Tim, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of securing the nation against terrorists. You know, we’re here on the fifth anniversary, and there has not been another attack on the United States. And that’s not an accident, because we’ve done a hell of a job here at home, in terms of homeland security, in terms of the terrorist surveillance program we’ve put in place, in terms of the financial tracking program we put in place, and because of our detainee policy, where we, in fact, were able to interrogate captured terrorists to get the kind of intelligence that has allowed us to disrupt…
Russert actually follows up on that question (imagine that). Cheney is quite specifically alleging a causal connection between the most controversial of the adminstration’s policies and the absence of terrorist attacks on our soil. It’s hardly clear, however, that any were planned or attempted. And we’ll likely not be in the near future in a position to know that for certain. But Cheney makes it fairly clear that he has no specific knowledge of authentic disrupted plots. If he did, he’d probably tell us. Because they’ve been telling us about disrupted plots (that didn’t turn out to be plots at all) for five years.
But there’s certainly evidence that al Qaeda has other plans. But more fundamentally, Cheney should be careful what he wishes for. If he wants to take credit for absence, then he better be ready to take responsibility if it happens again on his watch.